Blogging for many authors is a way to communicate to their readers and market their books. But many authors are taking their blog a step further. They are using their blogs to help other authors and especially causes.
This post is a summary of comments from a collection of outstanding, award-winning authors interviewed at the HBS Author’s Spotlight. To date we have conducted over 300 interviews.
(Click on the author’s name to view their complete interview.)
During our interviews I will ask the authors questions about their blogs and what they are trying to do with them. The questions usually follow along these lines.
Do you want to keep readers informed or market your books or provide useful information to other writers or all of the above with your blog? Tell us about the time factor?
Let’s Help Others
We start off this post with some general ideas about blogging, getting cross-traffic to your blog by connecting with other authors and the benefits of helping others.
Romance Author Rachelle Ayala @AyalaRachelle is an author, blogger and a member of the World Literary Café.
“The blogging took off with the social networking. I couldn't possibly think of so many wise and pithy things to write about myself every single day, but I can most certainly meet and find other authors to share their wise and pithy thoughts.
My blog is heavily visited because of the Promo Site listing (a section of her blog) so it is a win-win situation for everyone who appears on my blog. The listing drives traffic to the blog, I tweet my blog posts to my Triberr tribes with almost a million reach, and the guests drive traffic to my blog by inviting their followers. Many people have met each other from being on my blog.
I like to be a connector and put people in touch with other people and information, so in that sense, I enjoy blogging. I meet people on Twitter and word seems to get around that I'm a friendly blog host.
The blogging indirectly helps my book sales because visitors see my banners and sometimes the guests buy or gift my book to their friends in gratitude for me hosting them. But book sales is not the main reason for blogging. It is meeting people and being engaged with their success. Somehow other people's success invigorates me, and it feels good to be a small part of it.”
Author Joanna Penn @thecreativepenn (J. F. Penn) is an Action-Adventure Thriller Author creating the ARKANE thriller series. Also, she is a leading consultant in the book industry.
“I started out blogging 4 years ago before I had even written fiction in order to share my lessons learned along the way. So for me, blogging wasn’t about selling my fiction, it was a means to become part of a community and help others. Back then, self-publishing wasn’t so popular but now, it’s gone mainstream and so my main blog at the CreativePenn.com picked up readers.
I think the trend for blogging and sharing right now really does stem from an honest desire to share and help others. It is the Wild West right now for indie authors so people are sharing what works, or what doesn’t and the feedback helps others. There’s an authentic community feeling amongst these indie blogs, and I love being part of that!
In terms of how blogging fits with marketing, I have a business as well as writing fiction. The Creative Penn is more about selling products and my services but I now have a fiction blog www.JFPenn.com where I write articles based on my research for the novels.
However, mainly I see blogging for fiction more as a value add, not as a sales mechanism or for marketing. I write articles that my readers would enjoy, rather than trying to attract readers through blogging.”
Author Patricia Zick @PCZick is an award-winning writer for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction.
“In Living Lightly [her blog], my goal is to present information on nature, the environment, gardening, and ways to live a life with the least impact on the Earth.
In Writing Whims [another blog], I hope to share what I’ve learned about writing with my readers. I also promote other writers on Author Wednesday and Book Review Friday. I don’t know how I do it, but right now while I’m trying to put together my gardening posts into a new ebook, my fiction has taken a backseat, but I’ll get back to it in a few weeks.”
Helping Other Authors
Many of the authors I have interviewed feel that their blog’s goal is to help other authors. It is the ‘what goes around comes around’ theory. The following is from a group of outstanding authors who practice this theory.
Kelly Abell @kellyabellbooks is a best-selling Romance, Mystery & Thrillers Author. She hails from the UK and analyzes people, a great background for a successful writer.
“I began sharing writing tips on my website after I published my first book. I am a firm believer in paying it forward and if I can offer tips and tricks that I've learned along the way, then that makes me feel like I'm contributing to someone else's success.
This is a difficult business to navigate and we all need to help each other through it. I'm also very active in the Florida Writer's Association and will be conducting some writing workshops through one of my publishers, Solstice Publishing. Be on the lookout for those.”
Author Jennifer Donohoe @donohoejennifer is a Science Fiction & Fantasy, Horror, Young Adult writer.
“As an Indie Author, I feel it is very important to help fellow authors. We all need to have a boost and look out for one another. I enjoy having an author do a guest post on my blog and they get some rewarding feedback for their post. I believe my primary goal is to keep the readers informed. If they are aware it's out there there'll be more of a chance for them to take a look or purchase it.”
Tricia Drammeh @triciadrammeh is the author of Young Adult, paranormal romance and Fantasy novels.
“I love blogging. I’m passionate about helping other writers and starting a dialogue where writers in various stages of publication can share information with each other. There are so many writers who’ve helped me, I can only try to pay it forward. Maintaining my blog never feels like a job or a chore. I absolutely enjoy it. I don’t find time to work on it—I make time.”
Award-winning Author Donna Fasano @DonnaFaz writes Sweet Romance novels. Her books have sold over 3.6 million copies worldwide and have been published in nearly two dozen languages.
“Offering other authors a helping hand makes me feel good. I'm a big advocate of helping others (and not just in a professional sense). Some authors like to hold onto their hard-earned lessons tightly, and I met some of those types of people back when I first began self-publishing; they know answers and secrets but refuse to tell. However, I met other authors who were generous with information and who helped me immensely. And now that I've learned how to do this successfully, I want to help others all I can. I'm a firm believer in 'what goes around, comes around'...if I help others to succeed, my own success will only be enhanced.”
Award-winning Author Susanne Lakin @CSLakin is the author of the seven-book fantasy series The Gates of Heaven. Also, Susanne is a freelance copyeditor and writing coach.
“…I love helping writers. My husband thinks it’s hilarious that I get to “criticize” people for a living. I’m not allowed to criticize him, so I guess that’s why it’s funny, right? Just kidding. I am really a great cheerleader for all my clients.
I love working with new authors who really don’t know much at all and helping them with the big learning curve. I spent two decades getting rejections on my novels because I had no one to mentor and help me, so I want to save my clients years of pain. It’s exciting to see a yucky first draft by a client, followed by a really terrific rewrite.
These new writers work hard, and when they apply what they learn, they really excel! It’s exciting for us both! I embrace their dreams and help them on the way, but I am tough and honest. One client I got together with at a conference shook his head and told everyone during introductions that ‘I kicked his butt.’ But he laughed.”
New York Times and USA Today Best Selling Author C.J. Lyons @cjlyonswriter is the author of sixteen Mystery & Thrillers and Romance novels.
“I actually don't have a blog for readers, but I wanted to give something back to other writers since so many writers helped me to get where I am, so I began the NoRulesJustWRITE.com site where I share everything I know and resources that have helped me along the way.”
Christopher Meeks @MeeksChris is a Prize winning novelist who writes serious and funny fiction. Also, Chris has an outstanding author information blog
“My blog is meant to be helpful. When I became a small publisher, so much of what I did was by trial and error. I like to give back if I can, especially if it means more great books are created. Because I teach college, I tend to take an instructor’s approach. There’s also the feeling that if I can do this, so can you.”
Phyllis Zimbler Miller @ZimblerMiller is an author of Mystery & Thrillers. Also, she is a Web marketer and writer of several book industry publications.
“I have always loved to tell people what to do -- by which I mean share helpful information. So blogging is a natural for me. But I admit that I am doing less blogging than I did five years ago as I expand the number of book writing projects that I am doing. And much of my author blogging is sharing with others the information I have learned for myself. Plus I am very disciplined and do not lose track of time on social media. I think this ability goes back to my journalism training -- blocking out everything but the task at hand.”
Terry Odell @authorterryo is an author of romance, mystery & romantic suspense novels. She is also a publishing industry blogger and hosts the Booklover’s Bench, a website for readers.
“My goal with my blog [Terry's Place] is to provide information. I like to talk about the craft of writing, but there are times I'll talk about anything. I share recipes on Wednesday, and do virtual 'field trips' on Fridays. I also host guests once a week. My goal is to interact with people, help other writers, and keep my name visible. After all, I'm only writing about 2 books a year; I want to give people something else during all the other times.”
Author Melissa Bourbon Ramirez is a Mystery & Thrillers and Romance writer. She is the author of the Magical Dressmaking Mystery Series and the Lola Cruz Mysteries.
“I don’t really blog regularly. I guest on The Naked Hero occasionally and keep my site updated with writer’s tips and other interesting articles. I was a teacher by trade and also taught writing both online at Savvy Authors and at Southern Methodist University with their CAPE program, which has given me lots of experience with the Hero’s Journey and other craft topics. I love teaching, so that’s a big motivation in keeping that information relevant and accessible on my site. I want to pay it forward and help other writers in the way that I was helped when I first started.”
Crime and Horror Author Jade Varden @JadeVarden is the creator of the Deck of Lies book series.
“I love doing the blog, yes, but sometimes I think it prevents me from getting work done on my current book project (whatever it may be at the time). I started doing the Writing 101 posts because I was noticing mistakes that I was making, and I thought maybe I could help other writers not make them.”
Helping and Supporting Indie Authors
Some author’s blogging goals are to help Indie authors specially. Here is some of their comments.
Author Leti Del Mar @leti_delmar is an indie author. She blogs about the craft of writing and indie books.
“My blog has evolved over time. I have discovered that Indies really and truly support each other. We are not each other's competition as much as each other’s support group. So I want my blog to be a resource for other writers and of course, raise awareness about my books. Because I want to make sure I present quality content and I also have a life outside of writing (including having a precocious toddler!), I only post content once a week on Mondays, and do an interview once a week, on Thursdays. I do much of it way in advance and work on it when I have time and when my toddler is napping.”
Author Michelle Muckley @MichelleMuckley writes Mystery and Thrillers. She is the author of the DAWN Series.
“Well, the blog has taken a bit of a backseat just lately. I try to use it as a tool to share my work and my thoughts about the publishing world, but at the same time, not make it all about my books. One thing that I like about the world of indie publishing is the willingness to share data with other writers, so I also try to put anything I think might be useful for other writers like stats after promos.
Time management is a major factor, and really it would be possible to never leave my desk and still never catch up. That is one reason I have let my blog take a backseat. Important updates still go out, but I try to focus my energies on my books.”
Author Billie Thomas @ChloeGetsAClue is a Mystery, Humor And Comedy, Chick Lit Series writer. Billie is the author of the Chloe Carstairs Mystery Series.
“I want to help promote mysteries, indie authors and my own series with my blog. In that order. I let my main character Chloe be the voice of Chloegetsaclue.com. She’s got her own distinct personality, so I let her live in the spotlight. I prefer to stay under the paparazzi’s radar. As for when I find the time… it’s a constant balancing act. I have a come apart every now and then but luckily those are getting fewer and further.”
Promote Other Authors
Some author blogs carry it one step further by promoting other author’s novels. Great, I get to chime in on this one.
Author Darcia Helle @DarciaHelle writes Suspense Novels which includes the Michael Sykora series.
My primary goal with my blog is simply entertainment for readers. I don’t want it to be all about promoting my own books. That would be dull for me, so it would have to be dull for readers as well. I love promoting my fellow authors, particularly those whose work I enjoy and respect. And I like writing interview questions for them. It’s kind of an indulgence on my part, to be honest. Back before I was published, when I was “just” a reader, I’d always have questions after I finished a great book. Where did the idea come from? Why did the author make certain choices? Now I get to ask all those questions!
I also like to add content that is, as I categorize it, ‘General Nonsense’. This allows me to talk about my dogs, music I love, things that irritate me, and things that inspire me. And, sometimes, my writing process. I hope the mix keeps people interested and entertained and, occasionally, gives them something to think about.”
James Moushon @jimhbs is a Mystery and Espionage author. He also writes several industry blogs including eBook Author’s Corner, HBS Author's Spotlight, and HBS Mystery Readers Circle.
“I have several blogs devoted to helping other authors sell their novels, gain exposure and help them with the ever changing book publishing industry and its challenges. Here is a short description of them.
The blog’s purpose is to help authors get exposure in the book publishing industry. Each post includes the author’s bio, their contact information and picture plus a Q/A session and their book list with buy links. Also, I have a special feature of the Spotlight that showcases author’s new releases and promos. I have interviewed and showcased over 450 authors to date.
The HBS Mystery Reader's Circle provides information about the latest novels and what is coming next from a collection of Bestselling and Outstanding Authors in the Mystery, Thrillers, Historical Fiction and Crime genre.
The Corner is a collection of Author advice and studies including Marketing, Social Media and other major topics created to help writers in today’s ever changing world of book publishing.
All three blogs are designed to promote and help authors.”
Author Paul Glover @glovergroup is a writer, a Provacateur and a Coach & Change Agent dedicated to assisting individuals & organization navigate the mind fields of the WorkQuake™
“The purpose of any of my writing or speaking, including the blog, and my coaching is to share my thoughts and ideas about how to be better individually and organizational. What good is accumulating decades of information, knowledge and experience if I can’t share it with others to their benefit?”
Author Marla Madison @MarlaAMadison is the bestselling author of She's Not There. She writes Suspense and Mystery & Thriller novels.
“My blog is only new every two weeks now, down from weekly. I started out using it to give pointers and lament on my ongoing fight with my weight. Since then it’s become more about writing. I enjoy hearing from other writers. For me, a blog is one more way to build a following and practice your writing.”
Several authors use author interviews in their blogs to give a helping hand. There is what they had to say.
New York Times Bestselling Author Caroline Leavitt @Leavittnovelist is a Literary Novelist. Caroline also is a writing teacher and book critic.
“I started the blog because I thought writers were supposed to have blogs, but then, I began to feel that just writing about myself was navel-gazing. I give it over to other writers. I did this first because, as a reviewer, I can't ethically review people I know, but I wanted to give my friends some ink.
Interviews seemed the perfect solution! This also gave me a chance to seek out and talk to many writers I didn't know, whom I really admired. It was exciting! The blog also makes me feel as if I am building writers' community, something I dearly love. I'm not always successful in finding the time, but I try. I set up schedules for myself and I try to keep to them!”
Award-winning Author Michelle Muto @MichWritesBooks is a YA Fantasy and Horror Author. She is a Georgia peach, geek, writer and blogger.
“I blogged for a short time before I decided to jump into indie publishing. I decided to do author interviews because I don’t see my life as all that exciting. I don’t really see any uptick in sales, but hopefully, my fellow authors do.”
Author Paul Western-Pittard @Cerullean is a Thriller, Fantasy and Science Fiction author from Australia.
“If you’d have asked me this question prior to October, I would have said that the purpose of the blog was to provide samples of my work and promote my books. It’s changed now.
In October I began interviewing authors and learned that talking to and about other people is far more interesting than the (slightly) solipsistic focus on me and my own work. I’ll definitely continue to use the blog to provide updates and announcements - even a few more strange little stories, but the focus has definitely shifted to engaging more with the writing community…
Ultimately, I plan to expand the blog to become something of a resource to writers, including techniques, services, software etc.”
Author Guest Posts
Some author blogs feature other author’s posts. This allow their blog to get cross-action among followers and helps save preparation time.
Award-Winning Author Jade Kerrion @JadeKerrion writes the DOUBLE HELIX series. Also, she writes a great blog featuring authors and writing.
“My blog evolved gradually. It started out a marketing tool, but then I realized I could only talk about myself for so long before getting bored. If I was getting bored with myself, surely readers were too.
So, I asked myself, what value could I create for others? Hosting authors was the obvious solution. The other was sharing the knowledge I’d gained in the process of writing, publishing, and marketing.
There is no shortage of ideas or contributors at this point. The other authors have really helped make my blog the vibrant place it is. Readers come to read about them and to find new and interesting books.
As for where I find the time…I don’t sleep. I do put in long hours, but more importantly, I’m organized and I’m fast. Those two traits help me accomplish more than one would think realistic or possible in the time I have. It’s been a massive learning curve for me, and every day, I’m finding new ways to streamline my processes and keep all the balls in the air.”
Author Cynthia Woolf @CynthiaWoolf writes in the Sci-fi Romance and Western Romance genres. She is the author of the Matchmaker & Co. series
“I like to have guests on my blog most of the time. I may only blog myself once or twice a month. As to the time involved, I have insomnia, so I get in a lot more working time than most people. I work (writing, workshops and promo) about 18 hours a day.”
Some authors devote their blog to helping special causes. Here are a few comments that fit into that category.
Author Teresa Burrell @teresaburrell is an author, lawyer and Child Abuse advocate who writes the The Advocate Series.
“My primary goal with my blog is to build awareness about child abuse. I think my books do that to--without being graphic. I figure if I can entertain people with a mystery and build awareness to a series social problem, I’ve given a little extra. I’ve worked with children most of my life and I’m appalled at what so many of these children have to endure. So, if I can help in even a small way, I’m thrilled.”
Author Jordyn Redwood @JordynRedwood is a Suspense writer/peds ER RN. She runs a medical blog for authors called Redwood's Medical Edge.
“Redwood’s Medical Edge is designed to help authors write medically accurate fiction so my primary goal is education. I’ve had many authors contact me for help with their stories and I often use their questions as content for the blog.”
Takeaways from Helping Others with Your Blog
A. Helping other authors, promote, publish, and gain exposure has its benefits.
B. You can gain the synergy of cross-traffic between authors.
C. Time management and commitment can be a problem. Guest posts could be a solution.
D. Helping others can indirectly help your sales.
E. A blog helps you practice the art of writing.
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And the HBS Mystery Readers’s Circle
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